Understanding The Role of Intellectual Property In The Fashion Industry

The fashion industry has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry and has no signs of relenting as new fashion statements continue to emerge by the day. Creating a ground-breaking fashion item takes much input in terms of creativity, time, and resources.

As a fashion designer, having exclusive rights to the pieces you create is the only way of reaping the benefits of your hard work. Unfortunately, the fashion industry is rife with counterfeits that can significantly eat into your profits by riding on your hard work. But you can register your intellectual property for protection against such infringements.

What Is an Intellectual Property

Intellectual property refers to intangible human creations, including inventions and literal or artistic expressions. All countries have IP laws stipulating what creations and inventions can be registered for protection and how the protections are applied.

Under Canadian law, there are four main types of intellectual property protection. These include patents, industrial design, copyrights, and trademark protections, but the most applicable in the fashion industry are copyright, design, and trademark protections.

Copyrights in the Fashion Industry

Creating a piece of fashion starts with an idea. The creator sketches their design on a piece of paper. This process can be painstaking because a creator rarely gets it right with the first draft.

After many alterations and modifications, they end up with the final designs on paper. This design becomes the reference for all pieces of fashion created. The fashion designer has a right to their fashion illustrations by default. However, proofing such copyright rights ownership in court can be a challenge.

The best way to ensure that nobody can claim your illustrations is by registering their copyrights. After registration, you get a certificate of copyright ownership which gives you a right to stop anyone from using your illustrations unless they have your express permission.

Copyright protections in Canada last for the entire life of an applicant and extend to 50 years after the copyright holder’s death.

Design Protections in the Fashion Industry

Some protections, such as industrial design rights protections, are not common in the fashion industry since most fashion statements have a relatively short life span. Also, design registration requirements are very strict, and creating a piece of clothing significantly different from others in the market can be tricky.

But design protections can easily apply to fashion items such as rings, wallets, purses, and shoes that are distinctively different from any other in the market. Product design protections last for 15 years from the date of registration.

In the 15 years, you reserve an exclusive right to your design. Also, you have the power to sue any person or entity that creates products that bear significant resemblance to your designs.


Trademarks are your brand identifiers, such as brand names, symbols, logos, slogans, or sounds. These identifiers can be used on the product as a label or marketing strategy. If you have built a reputation in the fashion industry, it’s only a matter of time before other people and entities start selling your products using your trademarks.

Having other people ride on your trademark’s reputation can significantly impact your profits and potentially damage your brand’s reputation. But you can get protection against such forms of infringement by registering your identifiers as trademarks.

This way, you will have exclusive rights to your trademarks and have a legal right to stop another person from using your trademarks or creating trademarks that are significantly similar to yours. Trademark protections in Canada run for ten years. But a trademark owner has a right to renew their trademark protections, but they must pay protection renewal fees.

Final Words

Registering your IP rights gives you exclusive rights to your creations and allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor, besides having the power to stop others from infringing on your rights. You could file a claim against an infringing party to recover damages resulting from the infringement.


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